After a brief
intro, Bellyqueen's Kaeshi Chai and Amar
Gamal lead the warm up and foundation sections, which
last about 25 minutes.
From the start, the production quality is superb.
of Amar's and Kaeshi's black pants and crop tops with silver
hip belts works well against the plain red, blue, or yellow
backgrounds with white floor that is used throughout the DVD.
Dance movements are visible at all times due to the uncluttered
set and exceptional videography. In fact, the only thing
I disliked about the videography was a few views of of the dancers
shot upwards from below. There was no good reason to shoot
from this angle, and I found it distracting. I'm assuming
that the angle was included to provide variety, but it was unnecessary.
However, in the larger scheme of the creative video techniques
I've seen used in other videos, this odd camera angle was restrained,
brief, and ultimately forgivable, given the overall high quality
of the camera work. (The camera work included good close-ups
of hip moves, foot positions, and a nice side view demonstrating
is the usual opening disclaimer about consulting a physician
or health and fitness expert along with a jacket note referencing
Bellyqueen's consultation with a kinesiologist and Laban movement
specialist, there is limited information given during the instruction
about moving safely. For example, there is nothing mentioned
about proper body mechanics when doing an upper torso circle,
a move very likely to be done incorrectly without specific instructions.
Additionally, during the cool down section, when head rolls
are demonstrated, the instructors did not employ rolling the
head back-which is the safe and correct procedure-but also did
not warn students that they should avoid that part of the move.
Given that most people, at some point, learned to roll the head
completely back and around, it would have been useful guidance
to point out that the rolling toward the back was not to be
throughout the instruction, only a few specific details were
given as to how to do the various moves. Mentioning things
such as where the weight is at a given point or noting common
errors to be avoided could have eliminated this flaw.
On the plus side, the 21 moves shown are basic and easy to follow.
The DVD also offers several easy combination moves, such as
the 3 step turn with upper body circle and arm variations with
hip locks. As a matter of personal taste, I would have
preferred seeing the legs a bit closer together on the forward
hip locks. The wide stance used by both dancers for that
movement can look a bit vulgar inadvertently. Other than
that, their posture and movement are quite good, no doubt because
of both being certified group exercise instructors, and because
of the consultation with movement experts mentioned previously.
section, BQ Boogie, is a simple choreography based on the preceding
foundations. The choreography is shown first in the studio
setting, then in a simulated club setting, with 2 additional
dancers, all in club clothing.
videography is still excellent, even in the darkened club setting,
allowing dancers to be easily seen. A nice touch is the
voice-over calling out each step in the choreography.
However, I would have preferred seeing dancers with different
body types represented in this section, rather than all of them
having the same lean frames.
of the exercise part of the DVD is its cool-down section.
This part is a typical cool down, with only one exception that
I found rather jarring. Each time, while doing forward
bends and reaches, Kaeshi's braided hair falls across her face
right under her nose, visually cutting her lovely face in half
with a black stripe! This could have been an opportunity
to teach how to gracefully keep hair off the face by sweeping
the arm under one's hair, then extending the arm out-thus brushing
the hair neatly aside.
section of the DVD focuses on improvisation.
Why improvising may be problematic and how to overcome the resulting
problems are discussed briefly.
improvisational options are mentioned: dancing to the beat,
melody or accents or dancing to a combination of all three.
Short demos are given, but these are not particularly helpful
as they are too brief and not noticeably different enough from
each other, especially for students who might have no musical
background. The “melody” and “beat,
melody & accents” sections are especially weak in
Two “stepping patterns” (transition
steps) are shown next. Again, some of the moves are done too
“large” for my taste. I prefer a somewhat more restrained,
controlled & elegant look—but this is a matter of
personal taste, and others may differ with me on this. Also,
there is the issue of club dancing being a little more “loose”
in general than performance dance. The DVD caters to the club
crowd, especially in its choice of music, so it is perhaps not
too surprising that some of their moves reflect this.
partner combinations section lists all variations of partnered
moves-mirror, synchronized, call and answer, opposites, see-saw,
and back and forth. This is an area where Kaeshi and Amar
they dance as a duo, it's no wonder that they have covered virtually
all the possibilities of partnered dance. The back and
forth section could have been a little more controlled, however.
Some dancers may take it as a license to become wild.
Again, this is a matter of personal taste.
guided improvisation is the last part of the improvisation section.
The exhortation to "take it to the dance floor" and many of
the voice-over suggestions for improvisation ("relax and let
go", "ride the melody, make it your own") are not much
help. "Hit the accent" and "travel across the floor" are
a bit more useful. The visuals consist solely of changing
patterns of color and light. No dancers are shown.
The visuals are combined with techno-style music with an Arabic
beat. This is the weakest part of the entire DVD.
Especially for beginning dancers, seeing each of the Bellyqueen
duo improvising in this section would have been more valuable,
as would having more specific suggestions in the voice-overs.
section of the DVD consists of special features: performances
a drum solo and there are snippets of Bellyqueen and Bellydance
Superstars performances. "Dunyavi Gypsy Passion" by Kaeshi
also adds some variety to this section. In the part concerning
interviews, several dancers and two musicians give fairly short
personal accounts of their involvement in Belly dance.
It was a wise decision to keep these accounts brief, thus avoiding
the interminable talking heads found in many other dance videos.
I found it ironic, though, that one of the very first statements
is that this style of dance is "made for every body type."
It's too bad that this was not validated in the DVD by actually
showing dancers of every body type! Without exception,
all of the dancers shown are young, thin, and beautiful.
also includes the history of Bellyqueen, and gives a personal
touch to the DVD. I enjoyed learning something about the
dancers and hearing their stories.
nice features are the optional Spanish voice-over on the DVD
and the bonus music CD. Having a music CD included is
a great idea. It allows people to practice the moves they've
just learned to a variety of music right away, without having
to hunt for music in the sometimes elusive Middle Eastern genre.
While I found the first two tracks of the CD a bit repetitive
and uninspiring, the rest of the CD provided some variety.
In general, I would have preferred authentic, traditional Middle
Eastern music, but the niche for this DVD and CD is the club
crowd. Tracks 4, 8, 9 and 10 may be more acceptable to
purists, but overall, the mix is an edgy, urban, funky techno-Arab
sound which might have crossover appeal to a younger, perhaps
more trendy audience than would the usual Arabic classics.
feature is a printed reference list of the 21 foundation moves,
8 improvisational suggestions, 2 transition steps, and 6 combinations
for partners in English and Spanish.
this is an extremely well made Belly dance package. I
would recommend it without hesitation to any dancer who wanted
to learn some Belly dance basics, get a fun, low-impact fitness
workout and spice up their club dancing.
Go to the Bellyqueen
site for more information on this product-http://www.bellyqueen.com/bellydancejam/aboutdvd.html
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
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